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I haven’t posted a collection of links in awhile because my recent move up to Dupont from Little Italy left me with a number of home renovation projects to complete in time for my upcoming 30th birthday.

I quickly found myself sitting on a good 200 or so stories, articles and recipes. While some of them are out-of-date, the rest are quite worthy of being brought to attention and the only question concerns the best way to do this.

I think I’m going to put out two collection of links for now, which will be posted every Monday. Inside Ontario will focus on what’s happening in our province while Outside Ontario will collect the best of what’s happening in the rest of the world.

Each of these will be further divided by theme. Cocktails will collect recipes and offer how-to guides on making syrups and mixers. News will talk about bars, the industry, the laws governing it and any interesting science concerning our consumption of booze that turns up.

Food is the biggest change for this blog and represents a growing interest of mine. I simply can’t talk about what I drink any longer without at least occasionally delving into what I eat. The two are inseparable as far as I’m concerned and I want to share quick-and-easy recipes, a companion to the DIY aspect of the blog’s cocktail coverage.

I’m really excited to ramp up my coverage all of the interesting things going on in the world of food and drink and I look forward to keeping up with the challenge of posting regularly.

With Cinco de Mayo happening this weekend, it’s only appropriate that Tequila and More, the first trade show centered around the spirit, it’s  smokier cousin mezcal and Latin American food and culture, should roll into town the day after.

Although both spirits have made significant inroads into bartending culture, a certain reserve still remains when it comes to widespread acceptance amongst the drinking public. Long viewed as a shooter, their presence at any gathering will inevitably provoke a number of cautionary tales centered around an instance where the story-teller over-indulged.

I would argue that the main reason for this has to be the widespread availability of the shitty stuff, known as mixto tequila, which is only required to be produced with only 51% agave sugars, the other 49% being cane sugar and additives such as caramel coloring, oak extract, glycerin and sugar-based syrups.

Drink poorly-made booze and you will get a hangover.

Tequilas and mezcals made from “100% agave” are a good starting point and hopefully, this second outing of Tequila and More will help shift the public perception of the spirits image as a hangover-waiting-to-happen to a worthy companion to whisky, gin and rum in the liquor cabinet.

I spoke to Allan Fryman, one of the organizers, about the show, tequila and its bad reputation.

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“Why do you have so many pictures of food on your Facebook?” a coworker recently asked me, more bemused than concerned.

“What do you love?”, I asked him. “My family,” he instantly replied. His albums are full of photos of them so I presume this to be true. I don’t know him well enough to understand why he wouldn’t make that connection but there it was. Having photos of your family publicly demonstrates your love and fidelity but having photos of the steak you cooked last week seems a bit proud, a little snobby and maybe even gluttonous.

Gluttony’s a really dirty word, the n-word for people who enjoy eating and it can sting a bit when tossed at someone considered guilty of it. While it has its roots in the Latin word gluttire, meaning to gulp down or swallow and is generally assigned to the overconsumption of food, Catholics went one better and really broke it down. St. Thomas Aquinas thought there were five components:

Laute – Eating food that is too luxurious, exotic or costly.

Nimis – eating food that is excessive in quantity.

Studiose – eating food that is too daintily or elaborately prepared.

Praepropere – eating too soon, or at an inappropriate time.

Ardenter – eating too eagerly.

Clearly not the kind of man who enjoys himself at the dinner table.

Many people, let alone gourmets, have been guilty of all of the above at one point in their lives. It doesn’t make them gluttons (well, maybe not all of them). While we’re a far cry from fifteenth century Europe, where the class you were born into determined what you were allowed to eat, when you could eat it and how much of it you could ingest, there still live among us those frown at taking too much pleasure in a meal.

B.R. Myers is one of those fellows. Last month he wrote a screed in The Atlantic aimed squarely at gourmets. Appropriately called a “crusade” and taking up the cause of Aquinas, he went on to lay a veritable host of sins at their feet, backed up by cherry-picked quotes from fellow writers and chefs such as Anthony Bourdain, Michael Pollan, Jeffrey Steingarten and Gabrielle Hamilton.

If one were to take his article at face value, one might think we were facing the reemergence of Legion, with the epicenter of demonic activity being New York City. According to Myers, foodies are obsessive carnivores taking pleasure in the suffering of animals being butchered and enforcing elitist ideals when it comes to agriculture whilst flying around the world to blithely appropriate whatever local food customs and culture suit their agenda. They get off on the weird dishes they eat and view religious traditions, such as keeping kosher, as outmoded restrictions ripe for sabotage.

Does this sound like anyone you know?

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Infinium (227660, 750 mL, $15) is not a great beer. It’s not as bad as you might have heard but it’s certainly interesting and a bit unexpected; like a blind date where you both choose the same bar to meet up at.

The girls I was having dinner with that night got excited when I pulled it out of my bag. “Oooh, you brought champagne!” Bring it to any party and you’ll probably get a favorable reaction but the similarities end there. Might as well get that out of the way right now.

Infinium is not like champagne.

It’s housed in a champagne-style bottle with a cork you can pop to great effect. It’s made with champagne yeast and is indeed effervescent although not dry. Those of you looking to make that comparison will be disappointed; as will anyone hoping to persuade their significant other to drink more beer.

Infinium is no gateway beer.

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St. Patrick’s Day, like many holidays, has been watered down into a poor parody of itself.

Everyone becomes Irish and dresses in garish garb that no one at Carnival or Pride would be caught dead in. Most people aren’t even Catholics so the idea of celebrating the lifting of Lenten restrictions with a little excess has no point.

Basically, it’s an excuse for people who work too much and don’t have enough fun to let loose. That being said, I’m not the sort of fellow who thinks any of my reasons for not liking this holiday should get in the way of people enjoying themselves. I’d just like it if people were a little more cogent of the wires working this puppet show.

So do it up. Laugh with your friends. Make someone’s night. But don’t do it because it’s a “holiday”. Do it because it’s just another day and you’re alive and well and things are (hopefully) alright. Head on over to The Ceili Cottage, the Dora Keogh or McVeigh’s if you’re a regular but any bar will do.

Me, I’ll be listening to the Pogues.

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Things still look pretty grim in Wisconsin. The Ivory CoastJapan and Libya are going down the shitter. Seems appropriate.

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Is the idea of legalized public drinking inexorably linked for you to the sort of behavior in the video above? While the cynical boozehound in me views the proposed changes to our province’s liquor laws as an attempt by McGuinty and Co. to ward off PC leader Tim Hudak and Ford Nation, I can’t help but get a little excited.

No more beer tents! Whether you’re going to a music festival or the Ex, this is potentially huge. No lineups! No more missing bits of the show because you need another drink.

Anyone who claims we’ll have more drunk assholes like the fella above is missing the point. They’ll always be around. There’s no sense in punishing the vast majority of responsible adults because a few idiots can’t handle their liquor. If they get out of line? BAM, the hammer falls. Zero tolerance.

Of course, Hudak chimed in that he was all for “treating people like adults and not children”. While his point that the Liberal provincial government ignored similar recommendations made in a 2005 study is a good one, I fail to see how bringing back “buck-a-beer” is a grown-up idea.

Wet blanket and New Democrat leader Andrea Horwath stated that “when and where people drink beer is not a priority for most Ontarians”.

Andrea, last time I looked, you’ve never come close to winning an election and judging from the comments appended to this article, I’d say people do give a shit. Maybe you’re not as in-touch with the people as you think?

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But the older I get, the more I think that the whole purpose of life is to have fun.

(Photo taken by Adam Goldberg.)

Nørrebro Bryghus, hailing from the Danish craft beer scene, is the latest brewery to have its turn in the spotlight of the LCBO’s Featured Brewery program.

Like Harviestoun before, Nørrebro can be a bit tricky to locate. I had no trouble picking up the first four but the Var Tripel (210773, 600 mL, $9.35) eluded me. From what I’ve read, it’s a Belgian-inspired triple with lots of spice and citrus notes. Sounds tasty.

Attractively-packaged with a color scheme right out of the ’70′s, the large bottles are designed for sharing so I invited some friends over to help me drink them before we went out that night. Here’s what we thought…

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Crawford

Crawford is about to shake up the Little Italy nightlife.

Last Saturday nearly turned out to be a bust for me and my friends. While all the essentials (what we were going to drink and whose house we were starting at) had been figured out, a simple mistake nearly unraveled the whole endeavor.

One of my friends was under the impression that 90′s Party, the retro montly at Neutral was happening this weekend when it was actually scheduled for next weekend. Although there was another 90′s party at Augusta House, I haven’t been interested in going there since 2007 so we had to find a new spot and fast.

A couple of phone calls later, we heard that Bang The Party! was moving to a new bar on Crawford and decided to check it out.

(For the rest of the article, please continue on to blogTO.)

With a solid team behind the bar and plenty of positive word-of-mouth, look for Crawford to be one of the biggest bars in Toronto for 2011.

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Some brewery needs to hire David Cross to do a couple spots. It would make everyone’s day.

ALCOHOL IS LESS FATTENING THAN YOU THINK. Quote. Now stop buying Molson 67. |Toronto Sun|

Adam McDowell has some good ideas when it comes to bars stepping up their game for 2011. |National Post|

We will soon get to try sake the way the Japanese intended when Toronto’s first sake brewery opens in the Distillery District this spring. |Toronto Life|

And as if we really need another reason why NYC is better than us, they’ve gone and protected their front-of-the-house staff’s tips. Not sure if that’s really anywhere near Mayor Ford’s give-a-fuck list but it would be nice… I could always give him a call. |Toronto Life|

I have to say, I have to agree with Beppi when he posits that older whisky is not necessarily better. My favorite range is often the 12 to 18 year-olds. |The Globe And Mail|

Hmm, maybe where Toronto shines is our lack of pretension? A brilliant diatribe against arrogant bartenders. |Threepenny|

But then again, NYC has these three cocktails. Pretty tasty. |The New York Times|

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